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Andrew Cunanan gets his close up, 20 years later

Ryan Murphy takes on the infamous Versace murder



The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story stars, from left, Ricky Martin (Antonio D’Amico), Darren Criss (Cunanan) and Edgar Ramirez (Versace). (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup, courtesy FX Network)

For the upcoming television series “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” executive producer/director Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story,” “Feud: Bette and Joan,” “The People vs. O.J. Simpson”) has set out to tell the story of Andrew Cunanan, the spree-killing sociopath who murdered the late fashion designer on the steps of his mansion 20 years ago.

“I think the thing about ‘American Crime Story’ is that we’re not just doing sort of a crime,” Murphy said at the Television Critics Press Tour. “We’re trying to talk about a crime within a social idea. And this was always interesting to us because the idea was that Versace, who was [Cunanan’s] last victim, really did not have to die.”

What gets discussed in the series is homophobia—which Murphy notes, was how Cunanan was able to successfully make his way across the U.S. and kill these victims, many of whom were gay.

“Homophobia, particularly within the various police organizations that refused in Miami to put up ‘wanted’ posters, even though they knew that Andrew Cunanan had probably committed many of these murders and was probably headed that way, all of which we deal with in the show. I thought that that was a really interesting thing to examine, to look at again, particularly with the president we have and the world that we live in.”  

The series is based on a book by Maureen Orth, called “Vulgar Favors,” which indicated that Cunanan had HIV, though publicly, this was disputed by the family.

About that time period and the stigma surrounding HIV, Murphy said: “You could literally lose your business, lose everything that you had. You could be fired. This company that Versace had was about to go public, and he was terrified of anything coming out negative about his personal life. We delve into that in the show.  

Murphy continued: “It was a huge thing to announce that [Versace] was gay and out of the closet, which he did in an interview. So all of that has a ripple effect…the Versaces will like some of what we do, and some of it they will be uncomfortable about….I don’t think there should be any stigma or shame attached to HIV at all…And I think there really was, and we address that head on.”

With period pieces like “Versace” and the Emmy nominated, “Feud,” which profiles the behind-the-scenes rivalry of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on the set of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane,” Murphy feels “obligated” to be accurate with all the details.

To that end, FX recreated the former Miami home of the late fashion designer, which has since been turned into a $1,000+ a night hotel. Earlier this year, the cast—Ricky Martin, who plays Antonio D’Amico, Versace’s longtime partner, Penelope Cruz, (Donatella, Versace’s sister) Darren Criss (Cunanan) and Edgar Ramirez—went on location; Versace’s bedroom and closets that he personally created will be among the scenes in the film.

“We were lucky enough to be able to get inside there and film in that…It was really an amazing opportunity to be able to go in there. We did a tremendous amount of research, down to the backpack that Cunanan had, and what was his shoelace like. And that, to me, is one of the joys of the work, to really get it right. I think we did get it right with this show, because we cared. We wanted to do honor to him.”

While Versace’s former lover, Antonio, initially expressed concern about the series, Murphy indicated that he has had a change of heart.

“Ricky [Martin] spoke to him today, and he was very great and excited to talk to Ricky. My point of view about that is I think it’s very hard to judge anything that you’re watching based on a paparazzi photograph, which is apparently what his judgment was about. And I think when you’re doing a show like this, or a show like ‘O.J.,’ you’re not doing a documentary. You’re doing a docudrama. So there’s always certain things you take liberty with, particularly, and the movement of wanting to move toward something emotional, at least for me.”

In the series, Edgar Ramirez plays Versace, a complicated character that changed the world of fashion.

“For the first time, [Versace] combined sexiness and glamour and opulence, like no one has ever done before…. He could see the sexiness of the ’70s, and then all the opulence of the ’80s, and he sensed that in the ’90s. He combined it, and everybody went crazy,” Ramirez noted.   

He added: “It’s very interesting how the story captures not only a very dramatic, amazing story that needs to be told, but how it captures the spirit of the time. It’s something that also has a lot to do with Ryan’s work. And I’m a huge fan of that—movies, products, content that not also tell compelling stories, but also capture the zeitgeist and the spirit of the time that speak about greater subjects going on in society.”

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Online Culture

First Trans Amazon introduced by DC Comics In ‘Wonder Woman’

DC Comics-Warner Brothers became more LGBTQ+ inclusive with the introduction of the character of Bia, a Black trans woman



Courtesy of DC Comics-Warner Brothers

BURBANK – The world of DC Comics-Warner Brothers became more LGBTQ+ inclusive this weekend as the venerable comic book franchise of Wonder Woman expanded with the introduction of the character of Bia, a Black trans woman, in the first issue of the series Nubia & The Amazons.

Earlier this month on National Coming Out Day, the canon of the Superman series changed for the life of Jon Kent, the Superman of Earth and son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, taking a bold new direction. After initially striking up a friendship with reporter Jay Nakamura, he and Jon become romantically involved, making Kent an Out bisexual character.

In this latest offering, Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala, writers and creators confirmed that Bia is a Black Trans woman. They stressed that she “isn’t a box to tick … [she] is important to her community. Just as Black trans women are important to us in real life.” 

Of special significance to the introduction of the character in the DC Comic worlds was the endorsement of actress Lynda Carter who played the title role of Wonder Woman on television based on the comic book superheroine, which aired on ABC and later on CBS from 1975 to 1979. Earlier in the week Carter tweeted her support of Trans women;

Writing for the DC Comics-Warner Brothers website blog, co-creator Stephanie Williams said;

It’s been a dream to work with the likes of Vita Ayala, a non-binary Afro-Latinx comic writer who has been making quite a name for themselves. And then there is the illustrious and widely talented and dedicated Afro-Latina artist Alitha Martinez who is already in the comic hall of fame for all-time greats. Her passion for Nubia is unmatched. It shows in every cover and panel from Nubia’s Future State story written by L.L. McKinney, her Infinite Frontier #0 story written by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, and now the Nubia and the Amazons miniseries written by myself and Vita Ayala.”

Courtesy of DC Comics-Warner Brothers

I’m so excited about the history we’re creating, adding to, and remixing. The foundation has always been there, but needed some TLC. As Nubia embarks on this new journey as Queen of Themyscira, I hope her rebirth will be met with open arms and the desire to keep her always at the forefront. Nubia, now being queen, is poetic in so many ways, but one that stays on my mind is the very personal connection I feel. As I help to add to her legacy, she’s opened the door wider to my own,” Williams said adding:

Long may Queen Nubia reign, forever and always.”

Nubia and the Amazons #1 by Stephanie Williams, Vita Ayala and Alitha Martinez is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Along with co-writing Nubia and the Amazons, Stephanie Williams writes about comics, TV and movies for Check out more of her work on Den of Geek, What To Watch, Nerdist and SYFY Wire and be sure to follow her on both Twitter and Instagram at @steph_I_will.

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Ebony Power 100: Deputy White House Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre

Her position is historic as the first Black Lesbian who is speaking for the nation’s chief executive as Deputy Press Secretary



Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre courtesy of EBONY Magazine Power 100 awards

BEVERLY HILLS – Ebony Magazines’ iconic annual Power 100 awards ceremony, honoring those individuals who have had a positive impact on the African-American community is making its 2021 post coronavirus pandemic return airing Saturday, October 23 from Los Angeles and hosted by Wayne Brady.

Brady, a television personality, comedian, actor, and singer, will also give a special performance during the broadcast, and he is slated to receive Ebony’s Vanguard Award for his decades-plus career “as a consummate, all-around entertainer and performer.” 

Included in the distinguished list of honorees is principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who is listed in the magazine’s category of ‘Ceiling Breakers.’ As the principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre conducts the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Room in the West Wing standing in as needed for White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki and also she conducts what are referred to as ‘gaggles.’

“Gaggles” refers to informal briefings a White House press secretary conducts with the daily press pool rather than the entire White House press corps.

President Joe Biden’s selection of Jean-Pierre was a first in the history of presidential administrations. Her position is seen as historic from the perspective of being the first Black Lesbian to hold forth behind the podium of the James S. Brady Press room in the West Wing speaking for the nation’s chief executive.

Jean-Pierre has been with the Biden administration since she joined the Biden-Harris campaign in May of 2020 and then accepted the position of Chief of Staff to Senator Harris in August. In late November of 2020, then President-elect Joe Biden named seven women to his incoming White House Communications Team to include naming Jean-Pierre as the Deputy White House Press Secretary.

The daughter of immigrant parents from Haiti, Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique and later raised in Queens, a borough of New York City. A longtime activist and communications specialist, she has a Master’s in Public Affairs conferred on her by New York’s Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, where she has taught as an adjunct professor and lecturer in international and public affairs since 2014.

During the first Obama admkistartion term, Jean-Pierre, 43, served as the regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs.

Speaking with the Advocate magazine in June of 2011 Jean-Pierre reflected on her tenure working for the Obama Administration as an openly LGBT staffer. “What’s been wonderful is that I was not the only; I was one of many. President Obama didn’t hire LGBT staffers, he hired experienced individuals who happen to be LGBT,” she told the Advocate. “Serving and working for President Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honor. It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues.”

Speaking with NBC News journalist Tim Fitzsimons; “The sun was setting and the lights got much more prominent,” she said, referring to late June 2015, when she watched the White House lit in rainbow colors to mark the historic Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. “People had signs and people were crying, and there was just so much joy.”

“I remember thinking how proud I was of this administration, that I had worked for that,” Jean-Pierre, said. “It really brought together, in that one moment, how important LGBTQ rights were and how much that administration fought for our rights.”

In 2016 after her White House stint, Jean-Pierre served as a Senior Advisor and National Spokesperson for Washington D.C. based MoveOn, a progressive non-profit public policy advocacy group and political action committee. Her primary portfolio at the non-profit was addressing President Trump’s rhetoric and platform of hate, violence, racism, immigrant-bashing, and women-bashing.

She also served as the deputy campaign manager for former Democratic Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s 2016 campaign run for the Oval Office.

Jean-Pierre received national recognition after a June 1, 2019 incident during the MoveOn Big Ideas Forum she was moderating in San Francisco, when 24 year-old Aidan Cook, a member of the animal right activist organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), rushed the stage grabbing the microphone out of then California U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s hand. The Senator was a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination at the time of the incident.

Jean-Pierre, who had jumped in between Cook and the Senator after he took the microphone kept the activist away from Harris until security arrived and removed him. At the time of the incident, Harris, like most other candidates in early stages of the primary process, didn’t have a U.S. Secret Service detail for protection.

Jean-Pierre, her partner, CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter reside in Washington D.C.

The EBONY Power 100 ceremony also is marking the culmination of Ebonys 75th anniversary year. 

For the complete list of honorees please head over to here. (Link)

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West Hollywood Halloween Events 2021



Courtesy of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The West Hollywood Chamber of commerce has released its annual Halloween events guide available here.

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